Saturday, April 20, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux Falls 1, Lincoln 4

ZAR (middle) celebrates his 1st goal of the game
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars scored three powerplay goals Friday night at the IceBox in route to a dominating 4-1 victory over the visiting Sioux Falls Stampede.  With the win, the Stars now lead the best-of-five series against the Stampede, 2-1.

If Lincoln can win game four, which is tonight (Saturday) at the IceBox, they will upset Sioux Falls and win the first round series.



Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.


It was very important that the Stars came out strong and established control of the game, and that's exactly what they did in the first period.  Lincoln spent the majority of the period on the attack, while the Stampede barely were able to clear the puck out of their own zone.

The Stars were rewarded by their great play in the first period at the 8:23 mark when Vinni Lettieri scored Lincoln's first PP goal on a rebound to give the good guys a 1-0 lead.  Riley Bourbonnais and Phil Marinaccio collected the assists on Vinni's first goal of the playoffs.

Although Lincoln took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission, it could have been a lot worse for the Stampede.  SF goaltender Charlie Lindgren did a good job in the opening period keeping his team in the game.  Stars outshot the Stampede 19-7 in the first twenty minutes.

Sioux Falls regained their composure in the second period and played much better.  'Pede forward Zeb Knutson collected a loose puck in the slot at the 2:34 mark and fired a shot that got past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer to even the game at 1-1.  From my seat, it looked like Bitzer may have been screened on the play and did not see the puck.

This was a pivotal time in the game.  Although the Stars had outplayed Sioux Falls up until this point, the Stampede were able to tie the game up and tried to use the momentum from Knutson's goal to take control of the game.  However, it was defenseman Mike McKee and forward Zach Aston-Reese who combined on the next Stars goal to take the wind out of the Stampede's sails.

While in the defensive zone, McKee fired the puck up the ice on a clearing attempt that seemed like at the time that it would be called for icing.  However, ZAR turned on his jets and beat two Stampede players to the puck.  Zach quickly skated in on Lindgren on a min-breakaway and fired the puck past the SF goaltender to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead.  ZAR's first goal of the game would turn out to be the eventual game-winner.

Shots were 26-20 in favor of Lincoln through the first two periods.  Stars took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Like in the opening twenty minutes, the third period was completely owned by the Lincoln Stars.  What helped Lincoln's cause to win this game was Sioux Falls' lack of discipline and a total team meltdown in the third.  The Stars had only two powerplay opportunities in the first two periods, but thanks to SF's meltdown late in the game, Lincoln ended up with six PP opportunities in the third period alone.

What was impressive as a fan watching from the stands was the fact that the Stars kept their composure and did not retaliate after the Stampede tried to goon it up in the third period.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but it was awesome.  The Stars knew they had the lead, and they let the Stampede beat themselves with stupid penalty after stupid penalty.

The Stars scored two goals in the final period to increase their lead to 4-1, and both goals came on the powerplay.  ZAR scored his second goal of the game at the 7:25 mark, with an assist to Dominik Shine, to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.

Eric Scheid capped the scoring for the Stars with a PP goal at the 15:45 mark after he wristed the puck through the five-hole of Charlie Lindgren.  ZAR and Paul LaDue picked up the assists on Scheid first goal of the playoffs, and his first goal in 10 games.

Stars went 3-for-8 on the powerplay, while the Stampede went 0-for-2.  Through the first three games of this series, the Stampede are 0-for-10 on the powerplay.  Meanwhile, the Stars are 3-for-12 with the man advantage.  So far, special teams has helped the Stars take the 2-1 series lead.  Good to see.

Once again, Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer had a very strong game.  Bitzer stopped 32 of 33 shots in the game two win over the Stampede.  In the last two games against the 'Pede, Michael Bitzer has stopped 75 of 76 shots.  He's been cool, calm, and composed.

ZAR was named the #1 star of the game, and rightly so.  As good as Vinni Lettieri has played for the Lincoln Stars the past couple of months, Zach Aston-Reese has played just as well.  He's driving hard to the net, scoring big goals, and playing physical hockey.  He's a prototype power forward.

Tonight's game at the IceBox should be a dandy.  You have to figure the 'Pede will come out very, very strong because they know it's do or die.  I'm sure the Stars will come out strong as well since they want to wrap this series up tonight....in front of the home fans at the IceBox.

Can't wait!  Let's finish 'em off!

Go Stars.

Edit:  Video highlights from Game 3 are below.

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